First U.S. Case of Male-to-Male Sexually Transmitted Zika Virus Confirmed in Dallas
Reuters/Carlos Jasso

15 Apr 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Thursday the first U.S. case of male-to-male sexually transmitted Zika. A Dallas man contracted the virus while traveling in Venezuela. Later, in Texas, the man infected his male partner through anal sex.

“The present case report indicates Zika virus can be transmitted through anal sex, as well as vaginal sex,” CDC researchers wrote in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released April 14.

In February, Breitbart Texas reported on the nation’s first case of male-to-female sexually transmitted Zika, which also happened in Dallas. Similarly, a male partner contracted the virus on travel in a Zika affected country, then infected his female partner through vaginal intercourse. Since that time, the CDC reports at least five more recent cases of male-to-female sexual transmissions involving infected males who traveled to Zika infested areas.

The male-to-male sexually transmitted case happened in January, according to the CDC report. It said two days after returning to Dallas from Venezuela, the man who contracted the virus developed characteristic mild Zika symptoms — fever, a rash on his upper body and face, and conjunctivitis which lasted three days. A local health care provider diagnosed the virus. Then, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) investigated further, learning the man had unprotected sex one day before and one day after the onset of the symptoms. A week after first showing Zika symptoms, the man’s partner exhibited similar symptoms. The CDC did not identify the couple, only saying they were in a monogamous relationship for more than 10 years.
Additional CDC testing confirmed the man, who traveled to Venezuela, contracted Zika and dengue, although his partner only became infected with Zika. The CDC report noted the man said multiple people living in the Venezuelan area he visited experienced Zika symptoms.

In response to this case, the report stated: “Sexual transmission through both vaginal and anal sex is an emerging mode of Zika virus infection that might contribute to more illness than was anticipated when the outbreak was first recognized.”
In February, DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson voiced his concern that as high as 80 percent of those who contract Zika through sexual contact will not have any symptoms. That could lead to further spread of the virus. Health officials caution the next best thing to abstinence is protection. They recommend using condoms to prevent Zika and other sexually-transmitted diseases. Most people who contract Zika have few or mild symptoms.

Researchers do not how long Zika stays in semen, but the CDC report suggests it could be for as long as 10 weeks. They say Zika survives in semen longer than in blood.

Breitbart News reported the CDC called Zika “a bit scarier than we initially thought.” The group considered most at-risk from mosquito-born transmissions are pregnant women. On Wednesday, after months of a speculated connection, the CDC concluded the virus was a threat to pregnant women as “a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.” They continue to warn pregnant women to avoid travel to Zika affected countries.

There have been no reports of Zika locally transmitted by Dallas mosquitoes. The two types of Aedes mosquitoes that carry Zika also spread Dengue fever, prevalent on the Texas-Mexico border, and Chikungunya, which first entered the state in 2014, Breitbart Texas reported. These mosquitoes like to reproduce in standing water close to humans. Experts worry that Houston’s economically depressed areas could serve as prime breeding grounds.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott folded Zika into a state infectious task force, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported. Dallas County hopes to tackle any potential mosquito-driven outbreak in an existing protocol that combats mosquitoes carrying the West Nile and Chikungunya viruses, and Dengue fever.

Dallas health officials pursued local lab testing to expedite the diagnostic process instead of sending suspect blood samples to the Atlanta-based CDC. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is working on research it hopes will lead to a vaccine. Brazilinvested in this research. The University of Texas at Austin created an algae anti-mosquito bio-weapon that may be effective in controlling mosquito population, Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price reported. Breitbart News reported the Obama administration wants to reallocate $510 million earmarked West African Ebola fighting funds to instead research Zika.
Zika is also linked to increased risk for Guillain-Barré syndrome, rare paralysis disease. Cases increased during the 2014 French Polynesia virus outbreak. The CDC suggested Zika may lead to hearing and vision problems.